More older and vulnerable people across the North East are set to benefit from a popular telephone and befriending service after it received significant funding to expand its service.

Silver Talk, managed by housing association Karbon Homes, has secured a boost of over £62,000, with funding from Mid Durham, Stanley and Derwent Valley AAPs, as well as corporate partners Travis Perkins Managed Services, as part of their corporate social responsibility.

The free service for over 55s helps Karbon Homes residents who may be feeling lonely and isolated feel connected. The funding will cover the costs associated with taking on more community volunteers, which will ensure the service can reach even more users across the North East.

Edith Atkinson, 89, joined Silver Talk back in April when lockdown was at its peak.
She said: “When I first heard about Silver Talk I knew it was for me. I lost my husband three years ago and I do get a bit lonely at times. I was quickly matched up with my volunteer and it’s been absolutely lovely. We just seemed to click and we talk about absolutely anything and everything. It’s been lovely to just hear another voice and have someone to talk to, especially over the past few months being at home and hardly seeing anyone.”

Demand for Silver Talk has increased three-fold since March when lockdown measures were put in place across the UK. Over 300 service users now benefit from a 30-minute social chat with a fully trained volunteer each week, a jump from 95 in February.

Paul Moralee, Karbon’s Community Investment Manager, said: “For many older residents, the need to stay at home or self-isolate during the lockdown meant becoming cut off from the normal social contact they would get. We were really concerned about the effect it would have on older, more vulnerable people across the area. However, thanks to the hard work of our community and colleague volunteers, we’ve been able to make a real difference to many people’s lives. We are very grateful to our partners for this additional funding, which will help us to grow the service, attracting new volunteers to join so even more users can benefit.”

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